Fine Motor Skill Work Activities for Children
I've compiled the most popular fine motor skill work activities that I used with my elementary students during the 4 years that I taught special education. Like most teachers, I did not have a big budget for my classroom. My husband was in medical school while I was teaching, which meant that I didn't have a lot of money to spend on materials. Almost all of these activity sets are $5 or less. As mentioned above, I used these with elementary students, but many of them are appropriate or are easily adaptable for preschool, middle school, and high school students as well as adults.
Sorting By Color and/or Shape
Make sure that you choose sorting materials that are age appropriate. For example, I would only use the bears with preschool or elementary students.
Sorting Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Tip: Consider puzzles that come in different sizes and are made of different materials (i.e. cardboard, foam, wood).
I have purchased cardboard, foam, and wooden puzzles. Most of the cardboard puzzles are $4 24 piece puzzles from Target and Wal-Mart. My students always enjoyed puzzles with movie and/or TV characters and any sort of vehicles. The pictured foam alphabet puzzle is a $1 letters and numbers set from Wal-Mart. Target has some fairly inexpensive ($10 or less) wooden puzzles, too. While the movie/TV puzzles are always a big hit, I also have a number of puzzles like the foam one that work on educational skills such as numbers and letters.
Preschool Montessori Activities : Teaching Kids Fine Motor Skills
Buttons and Snaps
I wrote a separate article about creating fleece shapes with button and snap closures that I've linked below. Consider purchasing toys with buttons and snaps as well, such as dolls or stuffed animals with button and snap clothing pieces.
- Fine Motor Skill Toy: How to Make Fleece Shapes with Button and Snap Closures
Are you looking for toys that improve fine motor skill development? Consider making fleece shapes with button and snap closures.
Screws and Bolts
Small packs of screws/bolts in assorted sizes are readily available at any hardware store for a couple dollars.
Folding Towels and Washcloths
For my classroom, I bought a pack of washcloths in assorted colors (there are just a few of them pictured here) from Target. They usually cost about $4 per pack. I also bought the towels at Target on sale for about $2 each.
I have had several students with autism that really enjoyed this type of sorting work. They love the different colors and the texture of the washcloths. I took pictures of each washcloth and taped them to the inside of a box lid. If you have access to a washer/dryer in your school, see if you can have your students do any laundry for the school (i.e. staff work room towels, gym towels) and have them fold it when they've finished.
Both Target and Wal-Mart carry inexpensive travel containers with a variety of tops in the travel sized item sections.
A couple of my students were a little hard on my first flashlight set so this is the second one I bought during my four years of teaching special education. I got this combo set at Wal-Mart for less than $5 so I won't be too upset if it doesn't last forever. The instant gratification of having them light up when they're put together properly is priceless. I labeled the batteries with arrows to indicate which way they should go in the flashlights.
Silverware sorters are pretty cheap (less than $5) at any big box store. Check garage sales or thrift stores for old silverware. I've had students practice setting the table, too.
Assembling Ball Point Pens
I would sort the different parts of the pens into different containers as I did here. Most students have a preference for the order that they assemble them so I recommend letting them arrange the containers however they like.
Assembling Toiletry Kits
While you're in the travel sized section looking for screw top bottles (see above), you can also pick up everything that you need for these toiletry kits. Each one consists of a travel sized toothpaste and a toothbrush that goes into a toothbrush holder. My students put the items into Ziplock bags, but you can upgrade to something more sophisticated.
If you can find an opportunity in the school or the community for your students to stuff, label/stamp, and/or sort envelopes, that is great. I created this little set of cards with larger than normal envelopes for my students to use in my classroom, too.
Lacing and Sewing
I inherited to the lacing kit that I used in my special education classroom, but I've linked a similar one available for purchase below.
Latch Hook: Although this may seem like a stretch for special education students, I have taught a few of my students how to latch hook and they've really enjoyed it. Even students on the more severe end of the autism spectrum who needed hand over hand support, particularly when they started, enjoyed the motion and the feeling and colors of the yarn. There are a handful of kits for younger latch hookers at Hobby Lobby.
Fine Motor and Upper Extremity Activity - Hidden Cups
Fine motor skills toys on Amazon
More Fine Motor Skill Resources
- Fine Motor Skills — PreKinders
Hands-on ideas for improving fine motor skills in Pre-K, Preschool, and Kindergarten children.
- Occupational Therapy: Handwriting Fine Motor Skill Work (K-1)
This article includes a number of suggestions for supplemental occupational therapy handwriting fine motor skill work. These activities are geared for kindergarten and first grade students.
- Using Puzzles with a Group of Children
Puzzles are great for facilitating developmental skills, and can be use with one child or a group of children.